- (Photo: Credit: Reuters/Luke MacGregor)
Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister of the United Kingdom and the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, who has spoken out about his lack of belief in God, said he will send his 11-year-old son to a Catholic school.
"In response to media inquiries, Nick and Miriam can confirm that they have decided to send their oldest son, Antonio, from September onwards to the London Oratory School, a state Catholic secondary school," said a spokesman for the deputy prime minister, according to The Telegraph.
"He is currently a pupil at a state Catholic primary school, Our Lady of the Victories in Putney, where he has been going for the last six years. Now that their decision has been made public, they hope that the privacy of their son will be respected."
Clegg, who assumed office in 2010, has said that he does not believe in God, but he is married to a Catholic woman and said that he holds no ill will toward religion.
"My wife is Catholic, I married in the Catholic Church and my children have been brought up by Catholics and go to a Catholic state primary school," he said in 2011.
"It therefore shouldn't be entirely surprising that maybe, maybe just maybe, my wife might consider, we might consider as parents sending our children on to a state-funded Catholic secondary school."
The London Evening Standard reported that back in 2007, the British politician, who attended the private Westminster School growing up, said during a radio interview: "I am not myself an active believer, but the last thing I would do when talking or thinking about religion is approach it with a closed heart or a closed mind."
The Telegraph noted that "a close source" to Clegg tried to downplay any significance in the family choosing a Catholic school for their son, saying that the London Oratory School is simply the best choice in the area.
"Nick and Miriam chose the Oratory for a very simple reason – they think it is the best school for Antonio. He goes to a Catholic primary school in South West London. It is not unusual for pupils from that school to go on to the Oratory," the source said.
The 150-year-old school says that it conducts itself "in accordance with the Canon Law and teachings of the Catholic Church," and that it serves "as a witness to the Catholic faith."
About their ethos and expectations, the London Oratory states: "The school aims to assist Catholic parents in fulfilling their obligation to educate their children in accordance with the principles and teachings of the Church; to do this within an environment which will encourage and support the spiritual, physical, moral and intellectual development of the child and help him to grow towards full Christian maturity."